Vasopressin-induction of the immediate early gene, NGFI-A, in cultured hippocampal glial cells

Roberta Diaz Brinton, Rose Yamazaki, Claudia M. Gonzalez, Kathleen O'Neill, Steven S. Schreiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Our earlier autoradiographic work had documented a wide distribution of vasopressin receptors in the hippocampus which suggested the possibility that receptors for vasopressin were present in both neurons and glia. In the periphery, vasopressin is a potent mitogen in select proliferative cell types which also suggested a possible association between vasopressin receptor activation and the proliferative capacity of astrocytes. We therefore investigated whether vasopressin would induce the expression of the immediate early response gene, NGFI-A (also known as zif/268, ZENK, erg-1, krox 24), which is associated with initiation of mitogenesis. Cultured hippocampal glial cells were exposed to vasopressin or a selective V1 vasopressin receptor agonist and in situ hybridization for NGFI-A mRNA was conducted. Results of these experiments demonstrated that vasopressin induced a highly significant dose-dependent increase in the number of cells expressing NGFI-A. Studies to determine the receptor subtype mediating vasopressin induction of NGFI-A were conducted utilizing the specific V1 agonist, [Phe2, Ile3, Om8]-vasopressin. The V1 receptor agonist induced a highly significant dose dependent increase in the number of grains per NGFI-A positive cell. Time course analysis demonstrated that V1 agonist induction of NGFI-A occurred within 5 min, was maximally induced at 15 min of exposure and exhibited a gradual decline within 30 min of exposure which continued to decline over the 60 min time course. Glial cell responsivity was selective in that vasopressin and V1 agonist induction of NGFI-A occurred in a subpopulation of glial cells. Within a sea of glial cells, vasopressin and V1 agonist would induce islands of NGFI-A positive cells. Results of combined immunocytochemical labeling for the astrocyte specific marker, GFAP, and in situ hybridization for NGFI-A demonstrated that V1 agonist-induced NGFI-A expression occurred in GFAP positive cells. We observed no evidence for V1 agonist induction of NGFI-A in neurons. Collectively, these data document that vasopressin, acting via V1 vasopressin receptors, induces a highly significant increase in NGFI-A expression in select GFAP positive hippocampal astrocytes. To our knowledge, these data are the first report of a vasopressin mediated response in hippocampal glial cells. The potential functional significance of these findings is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocyte
  • Glial cell
  • Hippocampus
  • Immediate early response gene
  • Learning and memory
  • NGFI-A
  • Vasopressin
  • ZENK
  • zif/268

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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